After over two years of not playing in the NBA, free agent Emeka Okafor said that he's now ready to make a comeback. Although various title contenders such as the Golden State Warriors have expressed their interest in signing him, will he still be a valuable asset even after recovering from his back injury?
Okafor entered the NBA as the No. 2 overall pick by the Charlotte Bobcats during the 2004 draft. In 2012, he joined the Washington Wizards before being traded to the Phoenix Suns. However, before he got the chance to play for his new team, he was ruled out for the rest of the season due to a herniated disc near his neck. This also caused him to miss both the 2014-2015 and the 2015-2016 season and still remains as an unsigned player.
But last year, there have already been talks about Okafor making a comeback. This then drew a lot of interest from various teams including the Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat.
Bob Myers, the general manager of the Warriors, even said that the team remains flexible when it comes to reserving a spot for Okafor in the roster.
"We have 14 players right now, but you learn every year that someone you didn't expect to be available becomes an option," he said according to Chat Sports. "Ideally, you try to have the flexibility to keep a spot open in case that happens."
But, even with potential offers, it is still not yet sure if Okafor will be physically ready to play next season. Currently, he is eyeing to return in the NBA sometime in December or January.
In the meantime, he intends to use his downtime undergoing rehabilitation sessions for his previous injury. Of course, if he is able to fully recover from his condition, then he will have no problems choosing a team to play for. If not, however, the 33-year-old center could be forced to consider retiring completely.
But according to his agent Jeff Schwartz, Okafor is really focused on condition his body for next season.
"He's probably five or six months away," he said according to CBS Sports. "He's been working hard rehabbing. For some guys that means one thing. To Emeka, who understands his body wee or better than some trainers that have worked with him, it means something else."
"He's healthy," he added. "He feels great, but he's a perfectionist, and he wants everything to be right."